On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 21st Century Cures Act, which would provide $4.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the treatment of deadly diseases, of which $1 billion would be earmarked for new funding for opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs. The funds to fight addiction will be awarded to individual states, which in turn will fund anti-addiction programs through competitive grants.

The bill is expected to reach the Senate next week for a vote. Senators including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have already spoken out against the 21st Century Cures Act, calling the NIH funding “a fig leaf,” and many of the provisions in the bill “huge giveaways” to Big Pharma including the expedited approval of new indications for drugs that were previously approved.

Last July, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was signed into law to address the opioid crisis in the U.S., which would focus on prevention, recovery and treatment. However, the bill lacked the necessary funding to achieve its goals. President Barack Obama said in a statement that the bill “falls far short.”

He added that he was “deeply disappointed” in Republicans who blocked efforts to include $920 million in funding for treatment.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there was a 2.8-fold increase in the total number of deaths from prescription drug overdoses from 2001 to 2014, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers increased… (continue reading)